The FDA started warning the public about how dangerous cold and cough medicines are to children younger than 2 years old. The CDC study has been published in the journal of Pediatrics and this article gives a few of the highlights. The CDC did a one year study on the problem of overdosing in kids from ages 2 to 6 who were not properly supervised and/or who developed problems–like an allergic reaction– that sent them to the emergency room. Symptoms were not specific and there isn’t enough data to conclude how many deaths are attributed to the overdosage of these OTC cough and cold medicines.
Good safety practices are key when giving kids OTC medicines. One should never refer to medicine as candy. I have nieces that when they’re sick and are given a specific med, they could probably drink the entire bottle. If your kid has a cold and is congested there are good old fashion methods that still work for children under 2. Vaporizers and humidifiers are excellent and normal saline that lubricates the nose and helps with congestion. Bottom line is don’t be so quick to drug your kid and if an OTC product is necessary, do not take more than what is recommended. Most meds targeted at kids 2 to 6 haven’t been proven to work anyway so it’s best to use caution and most cold symptoms usually resolves on it’s own in about a week.